The Flåm railway—many people call it the most beautiful train ride in the world.
Travelers from all corners of the world come to Norway to experience this 20km ride through the waterfalls, steep mountainsides and snow capped mountains—summer and winter alike.
We were lucky enough to travel on the Flåm Railway last summer as part of our roadtrip through southern Norway.
Meant as a branch of the Bergen- Oslo railway, connecting it to the Sognefjord, planning was first started in the late 1800s but construction didn’t start till 1923. After nearly 20 years, the railway was opened.
Twenty years might seem like a long time but, bear in mind that the construction process involved all manual labor — even the tunnels were excavated manually! When you see the steep hills and the rough terrain the railway passes through, you’ll understand the obstacles the engineers had to deal with.
The engineers faced several challenges: steep mountainsides, rivers, and waterfalls. These had to be dealt with in clever ways. Once you get there (I assume you will be going, after seeing the pictures), you’ll notice how the hairpin tunnels weave through the mountains to combat with the steep altitude. A straight route was out of the question, it would have been too steep for a train to travel.
Also, the railway crosses the river three times — but not on bridges — the river is channeled under the tracks in tunnels!
The Flåm Railway first opened for traffic, temporarily for steam locomotives, in 1940. Shortly after, it was opened for passenger traffic. In 1944 it was electrified, making it one of the most modern railways in Norway. Today, despite new machinery and cars, a guide system in several languages and bigger platforms, the journey still feels like traveling half a century back in time.
The Flåm railway is one of the world’s steepest railways on conventional tracks. For more than 80 percent of the time, the inclination is above 55%: one foot rise per 18 foot traveled.
Taking you through the journey with text simply won’t cut it, so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Getting your tickets
Most travelers will combine this trip with a fjord cruise, a bus ride up in the mountains or continue their trip on the Bergen railway. The popular Norway in a Nutshell trip gives you all of this. When we went, we took the Bergen railway from Voss to Myrdal and from there we continued on the Flam Railway.
It is possible to book the tickets separately, but as an individual you can’t book them in advance through the ticket office. If you are a group of ten people or more, all you have to do is call the Visit Flåm booking office (+47 57 63 21 00).
If you have any questions regarding the trip, post a comment below!